New computer models and evidence from meteorites show that a low-mass supernova triggered the formation of our solar system.
“Before this model there was only inconclusive evidence to support this theory,” said Professor Alexander Heger from Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy.
About 4.6 billion years ago, a cloud of gas and dust that eventually formed our solar system was disturbed. The ensuing gravitational collapse formed the proto-Sun with a surrounding disc where the planets were born.
A supernova—a star exploding at the end of its life-cycle—would have enough energy to induce the collapse of such a gas cloud.
As debris from that event, meteorites are like the leftover bricks and mortar in a construction site.
Now the research team has examined radioactive particles in meteorites to learn more about that final supernova.
“Identifying these is what we needed to help us understand how the formation of the solar system was initiated,” Professor Heger said.
“The fingerprints uniquely point to a low-mass supernova as the trigger.”
Professor Heger has been part of a research team led by the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy.
Together with a new Monash Future Fellow, Dr Bernhard Mueller, he studies such supernovae using computational facilities at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.
Read more about the findings of this research here. Story credit: Monash University newsroom.
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